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Monday, March 17, 2008

VH-71 Program Requires “Substantial Redesign” of EH101

Lockheed Martin, AgustaWestland, and Bell Helicopter got good news and bad news on the VH-71 presidential transport last week. The good news? The White House will proceed with the complete VH-71 program. That calls for an Increment 1 set of five compromise aircraft based on AgustaWestland’s EH101, followed by an Increment 2 set of 23 full-capability aircraft. The bad news? To provide those capabilities, a Pentagon statement said, “the Navy and industry teams are having to complete [a] substantial redesign of the EH-101.” While the intent of the Jan. 28, 2005 contract to the Lockheed-led team was to “rely on an existing commercial helicopter and make modest modifications,” the Pentagon said, “no existing medium-lift helicopter can meet the Increment 2 requirements.”  
The bottom line, the Pentagon said, is that the total program cost will nearly double, from $6.8 billion to $11.2 billion.  Increment 1 costs are expected to rise from $2.3 billion to $3.7 billion, which Increment 2’s price tag will go from $4.5 billion to $7.5 billion. Because of cost growth issues and Congressional funding cuts, Lockheed is still under a stop-work order on Increment 2. For related news
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